20 Oct 2005

Social work needs more attention as way to fight drugs in Pacific, says Fiji NGO

4:35 pm on 20 October 2005

A Fiji non-governmental organisation says social work with young needs more attention as a method of fighting drug abuse in the region.

Police in the Marshall Islands have recently seized 2.5 million US dollars' worth of cocaine - a drug which last year also washed up on a beach in Vanuatu and has been seized in New Caledonia and Tonga.

Methamphetamine has been made in Fiji, and smuggled across the Pacific to Guam and American Samoa and French Polynesia.

The executive director of Fiji's Council of Social Services, Mohammed Hassan Khan, says stopping drug demand should become a priority for donors to Pacific Island states.

"No matter how much you police these things, you cannot just win this battle against drug abuse through policing and very stringent laws, etcetera. But there has to be a lot of investment in social development of people through providing assistance to civil society organisations and more social workers."

Mr Hassan Khan says his organisation works to stem demand for drugs through co-ordinating rehabilitation.

He says the Fiji Council of Social Services has recently had funding difficulties, including with New Zealand's government aid agency.